The Chayote squash or vegetable pear is related to the Zucchini, Cucumber, and common to Latin America. A pear shaped green or white fruit can be eaten cooked or raw. It has approximately 39 calories per 200 grams and is nearly fat-free; with 94 percent of its total constitution is water.
With these numbers in mind, one can see that the Chayote is perfect for those on a weight loss diet. AS part of a healthy diet, the Chayote can help reduce calorie intake and as it consists mostly of water, a natural appetite suppressant.
Furthermore, a single Chayote provides 14 percent of the daily-recommended value of dietary fiber, which helps in lowering cholesterol and improving blood sugar control for diabetics. Insoluble fiber aids the passage of food through the digestive tract and provides the bulk required for regulating bowel movement.
It also provides almost 50 percent or 189 mcg of folate, essential for optimum heart health and is important in the diet of pregnant women as it reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects. Potassium is an essential mineral for humans and the chayote provides 254mcg per 200 grams. Potassium helps regulate water balance in the body as it acts as an electrolyte. It is also an essential mineral for heart health.
The chayote is very low in sodium. For every 200 gram, it provides a mere 4mg of sodium, making it an ideal addition to the diet of those with a high risk of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease and high blood pressure. The recommend sodium intake for adults is 2300 mg per day but research has shown that the average American consumes double that amount thus making them more susceptible to kidney and heart diseases.
The Chayote also contains zinc, an essential mineral that helps keep the immune system healthy. It is also rich in copper, which is great for the thyroid. It is loaded with vitamin B6, important for memory retention and assisting the elderly who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia.
The vitamin K in the Chayote helps with clotting and helps in the prevention of osteoporosis whilst the iron helps with red blood cell production. It also contains a good amount of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that protects the immune system, prevents cancer and is great for cell regeneration thus slowing down the ageing process. Vitamin C is also essential in the production of collagen, which is important for the support and repair of tendons, ligaments, and skin and muscle tissue. The Chayote provides almost 20 mg of vitamin C per cup, which is one third of the required daily allowance.
The flavonoids found in the Chayote, protect against cell damage and inflammation due to free radicals. Even when cooked, the flavonoids remain active in the small intestine from where they are absorbed into the body and used to reduce inflammation. For those suffering with gout or arthritis, adding Chayote to the diet may bring about some easing of the pain and inflammation.
Recent studies have also shown that an herbal tea made from the Chayote squash leaves may help in lowering blood pressure, dissolving kidney stones, and treat the hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis.
In some parts of the world, the Chayote flesh is made into a tea that acts as a mild diuretic and helps in treating bloating.